Conversations on greenery: Woodlands open space

Plan for recreational spaces even as new flats are being built
Straits Times Forum
10 Sep 2012

THE HDB is to be lauded for accelerating the flat-building process, so that the needs of young couples and others in urgent need of housing can be met (“HDB to offer 20,000 new flats next year”; Aug 7).

However, the authorities must also appreciate the need for heartlanders to have more recreational spaces, which must go hand in hand with the building of flats in any particular area.

I refer, in particular, to a green lung located in the vicinity of Blocks 893A, B and C; Woodlands Primary School; Blocks 896B and C and Block 897A in Woodgrove estate, bordered by the MRT line, on the other side of which are more HDB flats.

Google Earth image of site taken on 25 May 2010.

Google Earth image taken on 7 Apr 2011.

This open space, which is aesthetically positioned between these blocks, is heavily patronised by the old and young alike.

In the evenings and on weekends, scores of boys and girls can be seen happily playing there. Elderly folk also go there to relax in the evenings.

Of late, soil testing has been carried out at various points of the green space. It appears that this area may be slated for residential development.

Many residents have voiced their unhappiness over this.

Besides environmental and aesthetic considerations, the social impact of closing this space has far-reaching consequences, particularly for young people. Already, a part of this green lung has been siphoned off for HDB flats that are now under construction.

On behalf of the residents of this precinct, I appeal to the authorities not to allow any further building of flats in this much-valued green space.

The rush to build more flats should be balanced with the qualitative needs and aspirations of the residents.

Dr V. Subramaniam

HDB mindful of need for community and green spaces in estates
Straits Times Forum
17 Sep 2012

WE THANK Dr V. Subramaniam (“Plan for recreational spaces even as new flats are being built”; Forum Online, last Monday).

Plots of vacant land in HDB towns are set aside for future development. Their land uses are shown in the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Master Plan 2008.

With the building of more HDB flats to meet continuing demand for housing, relevant plots of land will be developed progressively.

Dr Subramaniam referred to the land parcel along Woodlands Drive 50, which has been zoned “residential” in the Master Plan.

Pending future development, the site was kept as an open space for interim use.

In July, the HDB announced that a new Build-to-Order (BTO) project would be launched at this location.

While meeting the demand for new flats, the HDB remains mindful of the need to provide community and green spaces within our housing estates.

In the vicinity of the land parcel cited by Dr Subramaniam, there are two existing neighbourhood parks located at Woodlands Avenue 5 (near Block 897C) and Woodlands Street 81 (near Block 827), where residents can enjoy recreational activities.

Besides the two neighbourhood parks, residents can look forward to green spaces in the new BTO project, which includes a community garden and a rooftop garden at the multi-storey carpark.

To enhance community bonding, residents can also look forward to communal and recreational facilities like shelters, a precinct pavilion, adult and elderly fitness stations, as well as an adventure playground.

Kathleen Goh (Ms)
Director (Planning Dept 2)
Housing & Development Board

Still more room for a greener heartland
Straits Times Forum
14 January 2013

IN HIS letter, Dr Tan Eng Chun clearly demonstrated that Singaporeans, surrounded by a concrete jungle, feel for nature in its pristine form – trees, shrubs, green lungs, open areas, nature reserves, forests, wild life and fresh air (“Conserve green lungs on outskirts of Singapore”; last Friday).

However, this vital quest for a greener environment is something that is not sufficiently acknowledged, understood and appreciated by our planning authorities.

While it is true that planning policies do take into consideration the need for open spaces in the heartlands, there is still more room for a greener environment in our housing estates.

As Dr Tan has lamented, there is a relentless felling of trees and other forms of greenery to make way for more housing. A case in point is the proposed construction of an executive condominium along Woodlands Avenue 5 and the soon-to-be-built HDB flats in the open green space along Woodlands Drive 50. In these two cases alone, a substantial amount of green space is to be obliterated. Currently being used for recreational activities, these green areas will soon make way for heavy construction equipment, concrete piling and the resultant dust and deafening noise.

My family and I moved to Woodlands to take advantage of the lush greenery and fresh air, but unfortunately have to settle for something less.

Of late, there has also been a systematic and relentless felling of the beautiful and healthy trees that used to adorn Woodlands Drive 50 between Woodlands Primary School and 888 Plaza. These trees took several years to grow and were pleasing by their very presence, not to mention the shade and fresh air they gave residents. The street now looks bare, although little trees have been planted, presumably to replace the felled trees. These young trees will take years to grow, depriving residents of their much-treasured pleasure.

This scenario is being replicated throughout Singapore and I hope the authorities will consider the aesthetic needs and aspirations of Singaporeans in their quest for a greener environment and a better quality of life.

Dr. V. Subramaniam

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